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*Rom. iii. 1-8.
1. What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
2. Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God,
3. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
4. God forbid. Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar: as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
5. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man,)
6. God forbid for then how shall God judge the world? 7. For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
8. And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) let us do evil that good may come, whose damnation is just.
THE Apostle having declared, in the conclusion of the foregoing chapter, the unprofit
* This and the following discourses upon this chapter, are selected from an Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, which was delivered by the Author from time to time to his little congregation. The reason of his choice is founded upon a belief that, what is here presented to the Reader exhibits the foundation, upon which the Christian ought to place his hope, and on which the superstructure of holiness nay afterwards be immovably established.
ableness of circumcision to those who only regarded the external rite, and were not desirous of obtaining the circumcision of the heart, and aware of the objections, which the Jews, who entertained a vain opinion, that no circumcised person, however immoral he might be, would go to Hell; the Apostle, I say, aware of the opposition, which would be made to his sentiments, thus fairly proposes the opinion of his adversaries, whose answer, he imagines, would be to this effect: "You have said, he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; yet how will you deny, that the Jews were God's favourite and peculiar people, and how will you presume to affirm, that circumcision, which was an ordinance instituted by God himself, is of no avail? What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much, answers the Apostle, every way; but chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. The ceremony of circumcision was designed to intimate, that the carnal nature, which every man has, was to be subdued, mortified, and finally destroyed; therefore, when a child was presented to the Lord, to be dealt with according to this law, the parents were supposed to enter into a solemn
engagement to provide him with those means, which would be most conducive to the desired end. It was their business to make him acquainted with the word and will of God, to instruct him in the nature of divine worship, to explain to him the signification of the various ceremonies, which were from time to time imposed, to guard him from the idolatry practised by the surrounding nations, and, in short, to teach him to surrender himself, with full purpose of heart, to the God of Abraham, and to walk before him in holiness and righteousness all his days. The child, agreeably to the divine institution, might claim these privileges as his right, and as he might have recourse, whenever he pleased, to the oracles of God, that is, to the Sacred Word, which was revealed to the Priests and Prophets, he could not be at a loss to know the path of duty, nor be destitute of counsel and direction in any cases of difficulty that might occur. By faith and prayer he might understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, and be capable of knowing and declaring, as far as it was lawful," the deep things of God."* Much advantage then had the Jew, and much profit was there of circumcision. Now, as the Apostle intimates, the oracles of God might
* 1 Cor, ii. 10.
be made good, notwithstanding the infidelity of the people; for what if some of those highly-privileged persons, into whose hands they were committed, did not believe their report respecting the manifestation of Jesus Christ, and the salvation to be obtained by him, shall their unbelief make the faith or fidelity of God, in making such promise, of none effect? "God forbid," continues the Apostle, that we should so think, “ yea let God be true and every man a liar," as it is written, that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. Faith, as a plain man once defined it, is" taking God at his word;" and whoever considers how much that gracious act of the mind is insisted on in the Sacred Writings will not hesitate to affirm, that it must be of great price. For want of this, though blessings should be showered down in abundance on every side of us, and though innumerable privileges should compass us about, we are prevented from receiving any of them, and are in danger of famishing in the midst of plenty. We have no. inclination to open our mouths to take in the feast which is provided for us. I will embrace this opportunity of mentioning a few instances, wherein the want of faith is parti cularly displayed.